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Alcovy football coach Chris Edgar gets Coach of the Year honors
Alcovy football coach Chris Edgar guided the Tigers to more wins in 2016 than in the previous two seasons combined. - photo by Anthony Banks | The Covington News

When Alcovy football coach Chris Edgar was notified of his selection of The Covington News 2016 Football Coach of the Year, he actually tried to decline.

“Troy (Hoff at Eastside) and Terrance (Banks of Newton) each had more wins,” he said. “They made the playoffs. I didn’t.”

True. But no one in the county created the kind of one-year football program turnaround that Edgar did.

In his first season at the helm at Alcovy, Edgar led the Tigers (4-6) to more wins than in the 2014 and 2015 seasons combined. During those two years, Alcovy went a combined 1-19.

This season, the Tigers ripped off four wins in their first five games – a stretch of wins that’s only been duplicated four times in school history – before lack of depth, youth and injuries caught up with them during region play.

But by then, the sample size was large enough to know that Edgar had won his team’s attention and trust, perhaps ensuring that brighter days are ahead for Alcovy football.

“We’ve been trying to change the culture here from day one, and it has seemingly set in a little bit,” Edgar said. “Since the beginning I made sure that it’s been about these kids. We’ve got some good kids in the program, and their starving for success. I felt the past couple of years, we’d kind of been seen as the also-ran in the county. So to have them fight the way they did, particularly at the beginning of the season and late, I was definitely proud.”

In addition to the wins and overall feel of positivity around the place, some of Edgar’s seniors are extending their careers by signing football scholarships and gaining attention from college recruiters.

The Tigers looked bigger, faster and stronger as a whole in 2016. But Edgar is chomping at the bit to get into the meat of offseason work, including a full winter with his bunch for strength and conditioning – something he wasn’t privy to during his first season.

He also made the decision to go another direction with one of the key positions on his staff. Edgar said he’ll be hiring a new offensive coordinator in the next week or so, after having candidates from across Georgia and beyond applying for the position.

“At the end of the day, something like that, it’s a business decision I had to do,” Edgar said. “With the returning skill that we’ve got, and with some of the outstanding linemen we have returning who are working really hard, I feel like, with the right fit, we can truly become an offensive power.”

Another change Edgar made before the season began was a little more subtle, yet just as impactful, if not more so.

“It was simple, but we went with 7 a.m. workouts,” he said. “For the previous 10 years as an assistant here, I kept hearing people say ‘We can’t get them here in the morning.’ But we did it, and we had 80-plus showing up every day. That kind of commitment spoke volumes and set a tone for us.”

Edgar will be the first to admit, however, that he has definitely not arrived as a coach.

“I’ve got a lot of work to do to get to where some of these other guys around me are,” he said.

But he seems to know what kind of coach he is now, and what he wants to become. He speaks of being the kind of coach who lets his assistants coach without micromanagement from him.

He also wants to be the kind of coach who sees the value in all of his kids – not just the stat fillers and headline grabbers.

“We gave out two awards at our banquet – the Tiger Pace award – to Jesse Patterson and Jerome Williams,” he said. “Neither one led us in any stats. But they played as hard as they could and to the best of their ability. That’s what I want to be about. Take a player like Jesse. He’s a lineman, so his name doesn’t get in the paper ever. But that kids going to the Army. It’s kids like him who I’m most proud of.”

Going forward, Edgar said he wants to continue doing things – both large and small – to help infuse confidence into a program that’s had just three winning seasons since opening in 2006. Things like scheduling a Spring Game scrimmage with Newton.

“We know they’re the school with all the athletes and everything,” he said. “But I figure either two things can happen: You either hang with them and feel pretty good about where your guys are, or if you struggle a bit, you’ll be able to come back and see where things need to improve.

In the end, Edgar said he just wants to use his position as a coach to make the greatest possible impact he can on his kids.

“It’s still and always about relationships. You do things because you want these guys to run through a wall for you. We coach hard, but we coach fair. The goal is to propel these guys to the places they say they want to be.”